Memsieve – A Short Story

tablet-bigHere’s my third Pay It Forward offering for 2015. It’s a short story for Karolina. It came about in an odd way. Facebook has a new feature that offers us “memories” of what we posted on that particular day from years ago.

Pair that with Karolina’s talent for making jewelry and the story just came together.




Karolina was losing pieces of herself.

She often pictured them seeping out of her ears while she was sleeping or escaping from her nose when she sneezed. She tried looking for them, but it was impossible to find what she couldn’t remember losing.

Her memory had started to deteriorate. She started to forget things like dates, birthdays, things she had to do. Then it was books she had read, songs she had listened to or the plots of movies she had seen.

Now it seemed whole years of her life were missing from her mind; things that had once been so important and had filled her up had slipped away like smoke.

Thinking there was a medical reason for this, she had seen every specialist and doctor she could find. She had been tested for Alzheimer’s, brain trauma, dementia, early onset Alzheimer’s disease, but to no avail.

The doctors said there was nothing wrong with her. Still, her memory faltered. Now she forgot places she had been to, poems she had been able to recite by heart and even the names of people she had known for years.

Carrying her worry with her like a shroud, she went to visit her grandmother. She knew instantly that something was wrong when she opened her door. “What troubles you my dear?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, Nan.” She did not want to worry her grandmother with woes of memory loss. Who knew if her grandmother would get Alzheimer’s or something worse? She was an older woman but life liked to play cruel tricks sometimes.

“Nonsense.” Her grandmother said. “Tell me what troubles you.”

Karolina had never been able to say no to her grandmother. So, despite wanting to keep everything to herself, the whole ordeal came pouring out: how she had been losing memories, how she felt as if her mind were full of fog and her memories were like sand falling through her fingers.

When she was done, her grandmother got up and made her a cup of tea. This had always been one of her remedies whenever Karolina had been a girl. The scent of orange jasmine tea always filled Karolina with a sense of calm. She associated it with things set right and troubles solved, all at her grandmothers kitchen table.

“You have seer blood in you. So you need to see your memories again so you can hold on to them.”

“I don’t know how to do that. I’ve tried memory tricks, every one of them. Nothing seems to work to help me remember what I’ve forgotten.”

“I’m not talking about memory tricks. You’ve taken up making silver jewelry, haven’t you?”

“Yes, you know this. I gave you a pendant a few weeks ago.”

“I know.” She put her hand up to her neck, where the pendant shaped like a star hung. “You put so much of yourself in your art. Why not make something a bit bigger, something that you can see into.”

“Like what?”

“Well, what do seers use? Perhaps a small bowl or a mirror? Use your imagination, Karolina. The right tool will come to you.”

Heading home, Karolina thought of what she had to do. An image of a square mirrored surface came to her mind, a small rectangle that she could see her face and her eyes in. The image was so strong that her hands started to itch and she hadn’t even started yet.

When she got home, she went into her kitchen and made herself another cup of tea. Her cat, Owen, wove around her ankles. She reached down to scratch his head and made her way to her studio. She assembled the materials she would need: pieces of silver and pewter, her carving tools, soapstone and her ventilation mask.

She turned on the hot plate she used to heat her metals and wondered what to do in terms of a mold. She wasn’t making a piece of jewelry this time, though. So instead of making a large mirror, she carved a piece of soapstone into a simple flat surface, about 8″ by 10″. It would make the perfect mirror.

Pewter always went from shiny to dull when it cooled, so she added in some silver to lend the pewter some shine. She melted the metals over low heat and waited till it was a thick liquid. Then she poured the mixture into the soapstone.

She watched it cool, solidifying in front of her eyes, almost like time had been caught and slowed down. She etched a border in the rectangle panel, adding a small circle at the bottom of the frame for reasons she couldn’t name.

Thunder rumbled outside of her house. She had been working for so long that she hadn’t realized a storm had gathered overhead. She was about to close the windows when there was a charge in the air, as if someone had turned the sky on. She kept still, feeling that moving would interrupt that electric charge.

There was another crack of thunder and another pulse of electricity in the air; then her studio was blinding bright, filled with the white brilliance of lightning. She turned away from the brightness, closing her eyes lest the lightning blind her. Then she felt the electric charge leave the air. Owen was meowing outside the door to her studio and she went to the door and opened it.

He was frantic and she took a moment to calm him before turning back into her studio. All was as it should be…except for her scrying mirror. It was still sparking with electricity. When she was next to it, the last tongue of lightning faded away. She was astounded to see that it looked not like a mirror, but a tablet.

Though it had been struck by lightning, it was cool to the touch. She eased it out of the soapstone mold and held it in her hand. Looking at it, she noticed that the small circle at the bottom was now raised as if it were a button. Without giving it a seconds thought, she pressed the circle and wasn’t surprised when it went down and something clicked.

The silver glowed with a beautiful blue light that brightened her whole studio. It was as if the pewter and silver had somehow encased some of the lightning that had struck it. The scrying mirror hummed and then something appeared upon its surface.

Looking down, she saw a simple menu displayed upon it. It was a list of selections:

* Karolina – Ages 0-5

* Karolina – Ages 10-15

*Karolina – Ages 20-25

And so on. She hesitated only the smallest of moments before reaching out with a trembling finger and pressing on the silver screen, choosing her current age. Another menu appeared and she chose the last one at random. Her grandmothers face appeared as if she were looking at her, the whole scene playing from her point of view. Her grandmother sat at her kitchen table, her cup of tea clasped in her hands:

“You have seer blood in you. So you need to see your memories again so you can hold on to them.”

She hadn’t created a mirror, Karolina realized, but a tablet, a piece of electronics fuelled by lightning. She wondered how the scrying tablet had a record of all of her memories when the tablet answered her question as if she had spoken aloud. Another part of the conversation played on the glowing screen:

“You put so much of yourself in your art. Why not make something a bit bigger, something that you can see into.”

Karolina thought she understood, but in the end, it didn’t matter. She had her memories, and that was enough.

She went to the kitchen and placed the tablet on the counter while she made herself a cup of orange and jasmine tea. She eyed it with wonder and thought about the possibility of magic. Perhaps she did have the blood of a seer in her after all.

Karolina took her tea to the living room and sat on the couch. Owen got up and settled into her lap, purring contentedly. Taking a deep breath, Karolina pressed the button on the scrying tablet again and prepared to watch more of what she had forgotten.

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